Making gobs of money used to be easy. Now it's hard and that makes money managers question the very point of it all (other than being able to afford trendy coffee drinks).
Howard Fischer, wearing a white shirt and khakis, leans back into a window seat at a juice bar in Greenwich, Connecticut, sips a cold-brewed Mexican mocha and shares his angst. “It’s miserable, miserable,” the 57-year-old manager of $1.1 billion Basso Capital Management says of hedge fund returns over the past few years. “If that’s the normal expectation, I don’t have a business.”
It makes them feel like they're dying, but not in a lucky way like by heart attack. By a long bout of cancer, if there were type of cancer wherein you still got to charge investor fees for not beating the market. Except unlike people with actual cancer, no one's offered to make one of their wishes come true, which feels unfair and maybe even a little discriminatory.
The frustration is felt on both sides of the Atlantic. George Papamarkakis, whose main fund at $1 billion London-based North Asset Management is down about 10 percent this year, likens the industry’s poor performance to a chronic disease. “There’s gloom everywhere,” Papamarkakis, 46, says at a steakhouse in midtown Manhattan during a visit to the U.S. last week. The financial crisis “was a sudden death for a lot of people, like a heart attack, but this feels like cancer to many people, a slow death.”
If you'd like to do something to cheer these people up, which you should as their plight is a heartbreaking one that gets little attention, don't wait for the Make A Wish foundation to start a hedge fund division. That could take years. Whether it's a trip to Disneyland or a hot tip that could mean the difference between a sad quarter and happy one, you alone can make a difference in these hedge fund managers lives.